The star, of course, is ultra-cool Steve McQueen, who basically spends most of his time in solitary, bouncing a baseball off the wall (he also gets to steal a motorcycle). Elmer Bernstein's score gives the movie its heart-pounding heft. It was a huge hit, but received only one Oscar nomination, for Best Editing.
Y Tu Mamá También (Netflix)
Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También (2001) was a huge surprise when it opened in America in 2002; it hadn't even received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and yet it went on to become one of the highest grossing subtitled films of all time. It also went out without an MPAA rating, and deals heavily and frankly with sex, which is normally a subject Americans tend to shy away from.
The film tells the story of two young men (Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal) who take a summer road trip and are spontaneously joined by the sexy, older Luisa (Maribel Verdú). Moving through a specific Mexican landscape full of sun, music, fruit, warmth, laziness, as well as simmering eroticism, the characters definitely have sex on the brain; but what they actually experience changes them profoundly. Years later, Cuarón won an Oscar for Best Director (for Gravity) and his enormous talent for dealing with characters and their physical and emotional responses in a given space had become crystal clear.
Barbershop 2 (Hulu Plus)
This loose, laid-back sequel to the original Barbershop (2002), which is also streaming on Hulu Plus,uses what could have been some very creaky plot turns, but the movie sidesteps them by focusing on characters and atmosphere; it has an almost improvisatory style. Whereas the first movie took place in winter in the South Side of Chicago, this one has a much warmer feel.
Calvin the barber (Ice Cube) must deal with the arrival of a chain store, "Nappy Cutz," right across the street from his shop. There's a town meeting and some rousing speeches, but mostly it's an excuse to get the old cast back together (Eve, Troy Garity, Michael Ealy, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Cedric the Entertainer) bickering and bantering in a most enjoyable way. Queen Latifah joins in for this one (and later had her own spinoff movie, Beauty Shop).
Seven Psychopaths (Amazon Prime)
Acclaimed Irish playwright Martin McDonagh won an Oscar for his short film Six Shooter (2005) and received a nomination for the screenplay of his feature debut, In Bruges (2008). His incredibly clever, self-reflexive second feature, Seven Psychopaths (2012), amusingly looks at the art of writing and the necessity of conflict (or violence) in storytelling.
A screenwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell), is having trouble with his latest work, titled "Seven Psychopaths." He is tired of violence in movies and wants to think of an alternative. Meanwhile, his pal Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken) have kidnapped the beloved dog of a sadistic gangster (Woody Harrelson). So the trio retreats to the desert to try to find a peaceful solution to both Marty's script and their real-life gangster problem.
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